City surplus plan turns PD station into housing, riverside public works shop to public civic space

A screenshot of a proposed list of properties to be surplussed from a presentation at the April 2 City Council meeting.

A screenshot of a proposed list of properties to be surplussed from a presentation at the April 2 City Council meeting.

SNOHOMISH — The city’s going to have vacated parcels when it relocates City Hall, the Police Department and Public Works to a new campus on Pine Avenue in a few short years, and city administrator Heather Thomas outlined plans for these properties last week.

City Hall at 116 Union Ave.? Sell it off.

The police station at 230 Maple Ave.? See if it can transfer it to an organization that will use it for housing, particularly senior housing.

The current public works shop at 1301 First St.? Keep it, and turn it into a public riverside park. It could also serve as a future home for the Snohomish Farmers Market, complete with on-site parking. The park idea could develop at 2028 at the soonest.

Snohomish also plans to sell its building at First and Avenue D which it currently leases to an olive oil shop.

The city took over the former Visitor Information Center building when the county tourism bureau closed it and other branch visitor’s centers. The change put the city in the landlord business.

The olive oil shop’s owner Debe Franz last week called on city officials to protect her lease and protect her if it isn’t honored by a new buyer, calling this a “real gut punch.”

City Council members said they’d like to insert enforceable clauses to have any new buyer fulfill Franz’s five-year shop lease.

The city also plans to sell off 112 Union Ave., which houses the city engineering team.

The city’s most immediate plan is to sell the former grounds of its wastewater treatment plant in Granite Falls. The two parcels could fetch a combined $1 million  and could be on the market by the end of the year.

The site presents a maintainence liability if it gets vandalized or treated as a dumping ground, Thomas said.

The city will retain its water rights if it sells the site, Thomas said.

The city must relocate its public works shop by April 2027 under a city hearing examiner’s 2009 order. The hearing examiner approved the shop building on west First Street along the river on the condition it be removed within 18 years.

Separately, the city may look for adding more parking areas around town. 

The public works site could yield 30 to 60 spaces.

More parking at the future city campus could be rented.

An idea to add an additional parking lot at Pilchuck Julia Park raised a few eyebrows. Councilwoman Lea Anne Burke called it a “disturbing” and “offensive”  idea to pave over a riparian habitat.

The plan for reusing the Police Station site as senior housing could involve tapping into the city’s 1/10th of 1% sales tax specifically for affordable housing efforts.

City Council members last week hesitated on selling the historic former post office at 116 Union Ave.

“It may be the one we need to discuss later about,” Councilwoman Karen Guzak said.

As Snohomish grew, it cribbed together some of its portfolio by taking up existing properties.

The police station was a former bank building, complete with the vault.

The city bought the bank building on July 15, 1993 to convert into the Snohmish Police Department’s new home, former city manager Larry Bauman told the Tribune in 2015.

It got a remodel in 2015 paid partially for with seized drug money. The building dates to 1979.

Today’s City Hall was a surplussed Post Office.The post relocated to Avenue D in 1984.

Decades before that, the city’s government functioned out of 1009 First St., which also had the police department and Snohomish jail.